There is a lot of work involved in restoring and protecting an endangered species, the waters they inhabit, and the land we all love and use. Much of this work is conducted in partnership with state and federal agencies; some as part of the assessment of the Parr Project, some directed towards collecting information on other fish species such as Rainbow Smelt or Alewives.
Each spring many streams and rivers in Eastern Maine host spectacular river herring spawning runs. Hundreds of thousands of Blueback Herring and Alewives bring much-needed nutrients to the human and natural communities that have fasted through the long winter.
River herring—like salmon—need healthy, connected rivers to thrive. Alewives seek out lakes and ponds for spawning while Blueback Herring use the moving waters of small streams and rivers.
Collectively the migrating adult fish bring in crowds of eagles, osprey, cormorants, bears, raccoons, and anyone else looking for fish fresh from the ocean. The abundance lasts only a few weeks before the adults return to saltwater and leave their millions of progeny behind to be fed by and fed on in the freshwater world.
Nearly every winter since 2014, the Downeast Salmon Federation (DSF) has worked with the Maine Department of Marine Resources (DMR) on a unique stocking effort that plants Atlantic Salmon eggs directly into the stream bed in an effort to help restore this amazing species.
DSF assisted project biologists from the Maine DMR to plant salmon eggs in spawning shoals of the upper Pleasant River (DSF has its original salmon hatchery at the head of tide of the Pleasant River).
Each year over 100,000 eyed eggs are planted into the ice-lined spawning shoals. DMR biologists also have egg planted in the Machias and Narraguagus Rivers.
Years of acid rain, heavy timber harvest, and degradation of riparian zones have all contributed to the acidification of our waters. This is a serious issue that is not easily turned around. The changes these activities make in the pH of our water systems are compounded by the lack of buffering chemicals found in our thin soil and silica-rich bedrock composition in Downeast Maine. A more acidic stream can have impacts on fish directly by affecting their gill function as metals are extracted from soil and rocks and accumulate on the gills.
There is also a decrease in lower trophic level productivity as many important macroinvertebrates also struggle in a low pH environment. This decrease in productivity can cause bottom-up trophic cascades affecting species along all levels of the trophic ladder. A decrease in pH has serious consequences for not only Atlantic salmon, but many other fish species and macroinvertebrates alike.
The Downeast Salmon Federation has been collecting data on Sea-run Rainbow Smelt for many years. Due to recent declines in smelt numbers, there has been in increased effort to collect information on this important species.
We are looking for people with an interest in recreational smelt fishing, natural history buffs, healthy rivers, or those who want to learn to help collect data on the health of the sea-run smelt population in Downeast Maine.
Our Sea-run Rainbow Smelt citizen science initiative is a powerful scientific tool that DSF is using to advocate for conservation and sustainable harvest as well as educate the next generation of stewards. Monitoring lesser-known species like smelt allows DSF to collect critical information about the health of our fish populations and habitat that would otherwise be lost or forgotten.
Interested in becoming a
Go to the TAKE ACTION page and fill out the volunteering form, and we will get back to you right away. Make sure to check the box 'Field Based Biology Volunteer'.